How was everyone's 2022? Did we survive? I know I did. It was not the hardest year of my life but it was definitely testing. 2023 is and will be my year.
I recently watched Belle (2021) around the New Year. If you want a futuristic-modern take on Beauty and The Beast, this is the film for you.
In 1991, Disney gave us Beauty and The Beast. We all know the story about a beautiful smart, french woman who falls in love with the neighborhood beast. We also learned the typical childhood cliche lesson of not judging books by their cover.
Mamoru Hosoda gave us his version of the folktale, with Belle.
Imagine a shy Japanese 16-year-old girl, Suzu, who has the gift of voice. When she was younger, her mother passes away due to a river incident; which leaves the young girl unable to use her voice in front of others anymore.
She decides, later on, to create a profile on the latest social media platform, known as U. This platform allows you to use AI avatars. Through the use of these avatars, Suzu is able to regain her confidence and voice as Belle.
She is basically giving you the Hannah Montana effect through the U platform.
Additionally, with the help of her best friend, who is a hacker, Hiro, she was able to become a viral pop idol.
I won't spoil who the Beast is; better known as The Dragon within this vision of Beauty and the Beast.
I will spoil that Belle and The Dragon do not become romantic in this version.
However, he does get unmasked by Belle and Hiro, in an attempt to save him.
As a user of
U, you are able to reinvent yourself. Escapism is U, itself. But that is promised with all social media platforms. I personally have two Instagram accounts for this reason.
I will say the design of U, looks vastly similar to Hosoda's other masterpiece film Summer Wars (2009). I would not be surprised if it were the same universe just different account users.
Referring back to escapism, if you as a user decide to cause trouble within the platform, the ultimate "Twitter Jail" or account suspension is "Unveiling."
The unveiling is the act of revealing the user's true identity behind the avatar. Information revealed may vary between location, personal I.D., or in general whatever information you have stored online that can be routed to your avatar. (Gaston basically goes catfishing and lurking).
I usually cry by the end of every Hosoda film. This one not so much. That still does not take away from the beautiful animation, along with an amazing soundtrack (click on the cover photo to listen).
The overall message of this social media reinvention is the idea of both protection and connection through social media. We are able to not only create a community of our own but we can also seek out a community.
To even go deeper than that, just like interpersonal connections in-person, in order to establish a connection with someone virtually on a deeper level you must be willing to be vulnerable with the other person. In the simplest terms, you must be able to create a two-way connection.
Please watch other works by Hosoda:
Summer Wars (2009)
Wolf Children (2012)
The Boy and the Beast (2015)